Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Ostrich Conspiracy (2014)

Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2014. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

I still like the premise of this mystery-detective series. But I think I liked the first book more than the second. Or else I was just really in the right mood to love the novelty of it, the humor of it. Mood does play a significant part sometimes. That being said, I did like this one. I liked our platypus heroes. I liked Zengo and his partner O'Malley. The book opens with a crime or potential crime. Something goes horribly wrong on the opening night of the new indoor/outdoor amusement park. As horribly wrong as you'd expect a juvenile mystery to get perhaps. Someone tampered with the power, people were stuck on rides for hours, the fireworks went off early and before the roof could be opened up, and the fireworks caused some fires. So not a great opening day but certainly memorable for all the wrong reasons. Zengo and O'Malley decide to take the case and see if it was all deliberate. They have a feeling it was, but, no proof at the beginning. They have strong feelings about some of the people--or should that be ANIMALS--involved. But they have to look for evidence and proof to build a case. Some characters readers met in the first book, but, plenty are new to the second book.

I liked this one. There are a handful of action sequences in it. Those who are looking for ACTION may like it more than the first one.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Kiss of Deception (2014)

Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]

Kiss of Deception was an excellent fantasy. It is probably one of the best fantasies I've read all year. From start to finish, it held my attention. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of it that held up for three-quarters of the book. The mystery being who is who.

Kiss of Deception has multiple narrators. Princess Lia is our heroine, our runaway bride. Some chapters are narrated by "The Prince," and other chapters are narrated by "The Assassin." To add to the delight OR possibly add to the confusion, there are chapters narrated by Rafe and Kaden. Readers know that Rafe could be the Prince OR the Assassin. Likewise, readers know that Kaden could be either the Prince or the Assassin. The first third of the novel focuses more on all three being on the go. The Princess has runaway, taking her maid Pauline with her. The Prince is chasing after her. The Assassin is chasing after her too. Of course, he has been hired by someone to kill her. And the Prince's motivations are vague. What happens when these two men find her hiding in a small country town? What happens when she begins to get to know these two men, Rafe and Kaden, over the course of a week or two?

Kiss of Deception was definitely suspenseful in places. There's a bit of an intrigue mixed dangerously OR delightfully with romance. Readers learn that there is so much to learn about the world in which this novel is set. There is a hint of depth to it. I wanted more--in a good way. It wasn't that this novel was inadequate, it was that what we know is so small in comparison to what we don't know. And there's this wanting to see more, know more. If fantasy worlds feel fake, then, the wanting is completely different. It isn't curiosity but frustration.

I felt this novel was well-written. I enjoyed the world-building. I enjoyed the characterization.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's On Your Nightstand (August)


The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.
I finished five of the books I mentioned in July. Reviews of In Search of England, Dancers in Mourning, Unbroken, The Lost, and Kiss of Deception will be posted in the next few weeks. 


Victoria Victorious. Jean Plaidy. 1985. Three Rivers Press. 564 pages. [Source: Bought]

Still reading this one here and there. I haven't dedicated my time to it. Shorter chapters or even chapters of any sort would be so helpful! 


An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]
I am enjoying this one so much!!! It is a fascinating read, and so far I don't even think you have to be a fan of Christie or mystery novels to find it so. (I love Agatha Christie's mystery novels. But her details about growing up are so interesting, so detailed, that anyone who loves history should give it a try.)


The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages.  [Source: Bought]


I am rereading this one. I am enjoying it so far.


Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]

Persuasion is one of my favorite Austen novels. One of my goals for 2014 was to reread all of Austen's novels.


The Only Thing To Fear. Caroline Tung Richmond. 2014. Scholastic. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

You might have noticed that many of my current reads are lengthy. I like to read some shorter fiction as well. The Only Thing To Fear is set in the future, and it's both alternate history and dystopia. The what if of the novel is what if Hitler had won the war, what if the United States was divided into sections and ruled by Germans and Japanese. The heroine is a young woman named Zara. She has secrets to hide from the Nazi, secrets that if known would endanger her life...



© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher

The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

I was surprised by how much I LOVED The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. I think the timing was just right for me to love it.

Becky Thatcher is new in town. Her father is a judge. Her mother is a mess. To be fair, her mother is grieving the loss of her son, Jon. Becky and her father miss him too, of course. But. Her mother is deeply stuck in a very dark and melancholy place. Becky has her own way of dealing with her loss. For one, she likes to put on her brother's clothes, take him with her, if you will, and have lots of adventures. She wants to see everything, do everything, just take in each and every moment. It's not that she is out to break all the rules for the sake of breaking every rule. It's that she doesn't want to stop living and having adventures. So. She's sneaking out of the house and going off exploring and adventuring without the knowledge of either parent. Which means that her neighbor that oh-so-horrible Tom Sawyer can tattle on her often. And he does. He is a big tattle-tale which makes him about the least popular kid in town. If there's one kid you can count on to be far away from trouble, it's Tom Sawyer.

So the novel is her adventures, her coming-of-age story. One of the people she meets is Samuel Clemens. He's a riverboat captain temporarily stranded in their small town. He oversees the adventures and misadventures of all the kids in town.

I liked this one. I think I even LOVED it.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, August 25, 2014

The Courtiers (2010)

The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought]
The Great Drawing Room, crammed full of courtiers, lay at the heart of the Georgian royal palace. Here the king mingled most evenings with his guests, signalling welcome with a nod and displeasure with a blank stare or, worse, a turned back. The winners and the losers of the Georgian age could calculate precisely how high they’d climbed – or how far they’d fallen – by the warmth of their reception at court. High-heeled and elegant shoes crushed into the floorboards of the drawing room the reputations of those who’d dropped out of favour, while those whose status was on the rise stood firmly in possession of their few square inches of space.
 I found Lucy Worsley's The Courtiers to be fascinating! The book focuses on the reigns of George I and George II of England. The book provides a behind-the-scenes look at court life during those decades. The author was inspired by the portraits found in the King's Grand Staircase.

She writes,
In this book, we’ll meet kings and queens, but also many of the people who worked to meet their most intimate needs. The Georgian royal household was staggeringly vast and complicated. The highest ranking of its members, the courtiers proper, were the ladies- and gentlemen-in-waiting.
Beneath them in status were about 950 other royal servants, organised into a byzantine web of departments ranging from hairdressing to rat-catching, and extending right down to the four ‘necessary women’ who cleaned the palace and emptied the ‘necessaries’ or chamber pots.
If you want to know what these people looked like, you need only visit Kensington Palace. There, in the 1720s, the artist William Kent painted portraits of forty-five royal servants that look down upon palace visitors from the walls and ceiling of the King’s Grand Staircase.
Kensington Palace itself had existed long before the Hanoverian dynasty arrived in Britain to replace the Stuarts in 1714, yet it was also the one royal home that George I and his son really transformed and made their own. The servants there witnessed romance and violence, intrigue and infighting, and almost unimaginable acts of hatred and cruelty between members of the same family. I often find myself climbing the King’s Grand Staircase during the course of my working day, and the faces of the people populating it have always fascinated me. I’ve spent many hours studying them, wondering who they all were, and curiosity finally compelled me to try to find out. When I first began investigating their identities, I was surprised to discover that some of the names traditionally attached to the characters were wrong, while other obvious connections had been overlooked. My efforts to unearth each sitter’s true story led me on a much longer and more exciting journey than I’d expected, through caches of court papers in London, Windsor, Oxford and Suffolk. I found myself examining paintings at Buckingham Palace, gardens in Germany, and hitching lifts from kind strangers in rural Hertfordshire. My adventures both in and outside the archives led eventually to this book. I’ve selected the stories of just seven of them to illuminate the strange phenomenon of the Georgian court and to give a new perspective upon the lives of the kings, queens and princes inhabiting the rarefied court stratosphere above their heads.
The author does a great job in sharing primary accounts of the times. These accounts can be very gossipy. One definitely gets a sense of who's who, who all the celebrities of the times were. Worsley gives us a glimpse of all of society really. I appreciated the focus on personalities. History is so interesting, so entertaining, when the focus is on individual people.

Readers learn more about George I, George II, Queen Caroline, Prince Frederick, Princess Augusta, and George III. (Did you know that George II was the grandfather not the father of George III?) Readers get public and private glimpses. The private stuff, I admit, gets messy! The royal family could be very dysfunctional! Readers get to hear all about the arguments and scandals!

I liked this one because it was rich in detail. I liked it because it was interesting. The narrative is very friendly.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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